22 August 2023
Funding for Social Innovations Research Team
Climate change, poverty, lack of educational opportunities in the face of many technological advances: the challenges for society are as many and as diverse as the potential solutions. Initiators of social innovations are therefore trying to find targeted, long-term solutions for these social threats. They want to guarantee that social needs are optimally addressed, and that living with and within a society is made better and easier. The best known social innovations are car sharing services, open-source movements like Wikipedia, and multigeneration housing.
The Initializing Sustainable Social Innovations and Entrepreneurship project, funded with around €53,000 from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is inteded to further develop social innovations at Universität Hamburg. This includes important questions, like how social innovation is fostered in teaching, and how to increase interest among students and staff in this start-up area. “Teachers and start-up consultants are important multipliers at universities, for enthusing and providing advice to students in founding social innovations in a range of contexts. That is why we are focusing on them in the first stage,” explains Prof. Dr. Jana-Michaela Timm, project leader and professor of business administration with a focus on sustainable investment and management.
The project runs until the end of May 2024 and is application oriented with the goal of driving and raising awareness for university-related professional training and continuing education for social innovations and social companies. It will be followed by the development of a new learning and teaching format that will be tested in practice. Some business administration degree programs already offer subjects in some semesters that provide students with an opportunity to address a range social entrepreneurship issues. These then provide an experiential basis for further development, to persuade more students to enter into social entrepreneurship.
Particular attention is being given to virtual reality in the context of founding social organizations. “Virtual reality offers great potential for encouraging social innovations, and can be an important instrument in the founding of companies,” explains Dr. Rouven Seifert, a research associate to the professorship for marketing and media in the Faculty of Business Administration. For example, we can imagine that people interested in founding a company could experience a day in the life of a care provider, and thus adapt their ideas for facilitating certain activities more exactly to the actual needs.
In another part of the project, we are working on research with actors from the ecosystem of Hamburg innovators, the Hamburg Innovationsökosystem. The Innovationsökosystem is part of the Hamburg Senate’s regional innovation strategy, and includes start-ups and technology centers whose work will drive innovation and sustainable development throughout the Hamburg Metropolitan Region.
The new Universität Hamburg project also features a collaboration with the Hamburger Allianz für Social Entrepreneurship (Hamburg alliance for social entrepreneurship), the Spice VR company, and Hamburg foundations. “What we learn in social entrepreneurship education can make a meaningful contribution to development in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region,” explains Prof. Dr. Michel Clement, professor of business administration focusing on marketing and media. More companies being founded in the area of social entrepreneurship benefit not just the University, but also the city and the community as a whole.
For Universität Hamburg, as a founding member of the Hamburger Allianz für Social Entrepreneurship, it is important to foster sustainable social development across the whole region.